In the late fall of 1968, I walked to the school bus stop at the corner of my street. My neighbor, Frank, was already there. He was 11 and I was 12. Frank was holding a record album, which he proudly showed me.
What was this? The cover was completely white, totally unadorned, without any photographs of a musician or a band on it. I squinted and saw that there was some writing on it: “The Beatles.”
It was, of course, the double-record set that would come to be known as “The White Album.” At age 50, it is an undisputed cultural icon.
At the time, to a sixth-grader, it was an oddity.
In that pre-internet era, without a 24-hour cable news cycle and social media, I doubt that I knew this album was coming. I was an avid listener of the local AM rock ‘n’ roll station, but even if the DJs had talked about it, I wouldn’t have paid much attention. My parents never let me buy rock albums. I had a metal box filled with 45 rpm singles, but I wouldn’t have an album of my own until I started earning my own money.
Mom and Dad grew up during the Depression, so I just assumed they didn’t want to spend money on record albums. “The White Album” went for about $10, at a time when milk was a dollar a gallon. Singles were less than a dollar.